“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”Fred Rogers
Humans are such interesting creatures – if we have any visible pain, a cast, a sling, or a bruise people rush to check if you’re okay, they console you and go out of their way to ask if they can help you in any way but the moment you bring up words like depression, anxiety, ‘triggered’ you’re looked at as an outcast, just because they can’t see the pain they believe it’s fake and we’re told to “just get over it”
I’m grateful that I belong to a generation that has opted to be so vocal about mental health. It’s not just about depression and anxiety but it’s also about your mental well-being on a daily basis. When we openly talk about these issues we build a community that is accepting of illnesses they may not see which makes it easy for those who are suffering with mental health challenges to seek help, to learn coping mechanisms without shame and embarrassment and to maintain a positive mental well-being.
During this pandemic, there has been a rise in mental health illness – suicide, depression, anxiety but no one is talking about it? WHY?!
Here’s why we need to be talking about mental health:
1. TO REMOVE THE STIGMA
The more we talk about it, the more people become aware. If we can create a continuous conversation about it more people will be accepting and those who are suffering will find it easier to seek help without the fear of judgment and embarrassment.
2. TO STOP SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
When someone we love ends up in a bad way, when they start doing drugs or they decide to take their lives we find ourselves perplexed about how we didn’t see the signs. These signs are there and we usually choose to ignore it or downplay it’s importance. When your loved one is overeating or not eating at all, constantly running to the bathroom, complaining about severe headaches all the time, when there’s so much fatigue which you think is laziness – all those little things are signs, and if you took a few minutes to just ask “are you okay”, if you just acted with a little more kindness maybe we can change the outcome or hold it off long enough for them to bounce back or seek help before it’s detrimental.
3. TO PROVIDE SAFETY
One of the most important things for someone with mental health challenges is to feel like they are safe, like they have somewhere to go when the voices are overwhelming and the self sabotaging thoughts can’t be tamed. Be that place of safety for them. If you have little kids, let them know that if they are having a hard time they can come to you and snuggle up next to you even with eyes full of unexplainable tears. If your partner or spouse is looking a little down, do something special, let them vent to you. Create a safe space they can always run to or they could potentially run somewhere else that only looks safe on the outside.
4 TO ENSURE MORE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND
I cannot express this enough. It’s so easy to tell someone they need to just smile more, do more of what they love, ‘snap yourself out it’. I remember a little boy I had checked in at work who was having a panic attack and my colleagues laughed it off saying he was being a brat, I was so angry at the insensitivity but also so sad that people really don’t know and have never been taught about mental health. If someone makes a joke about rape, everyone scowls at them because it’s not funny but if you make jokes about mental health no one bothers to stop and say that’s not okay. We need more people to be empathetic.
5. TO ENSURE THE NEXT GENERATION DOESN’T SUFFER IN SILENCE LIKE WE DO
Despite my generation becoming more vocal about the difficult topics, there is still a stigma that mental health illness is a myth. The generations before mine were completely stagnated, mental health was a taboo topic. We need to make sure that the next generation can openly say they need help or they feel like they are crashing without fear of judgment, without embarrassment, without becoming the brunt of a joke. We may not be winning the battle for ourselves, but we can sure as hell fight so that those after us can live in absolute freedom.
Remember that you’re not alone, there are many that fighting silently with you. There is someone who will hear you without judgment or condemnation.
If you need to talk to someone and can’t find a safe soul to pour your heart into I’m here x
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatsapp me: +27 73 189 4532
DM me on social media: @itsbyankur
Here is a link to Neuro Wellness Spa’s 100 mental health blogs to read list: educate yourself here